Indian cricketers, by and large, have behaved well on the field of play in the last two calendar years and Harbhajan Singh's offence committed in the January 2-6 Sydney Test against Australia is only the sixth instance of a player from the country being booked under the ICC's Code of Conduct in 20 months.
Harbhajan Singh, who got great support from the Cricket Board, which appointed VR Manohar as the players Counsel to argue his case from Mumbai via a teleconference when his appeal was heard by New Zealand's Appeals Commissioner John Hansen in Adelaide, is the first this year to cop a punishment for breach of the ICC's CoC.
On Tuesday, he was fined 50 per cent of his match fees after being found guilty of breaching Code 2.8 (for using abusive language against Australian all rounder Andrew Symonds) after being absolved of uttering racist remarks at his opponent, for which he had been banned for three Tests earlier by ICC match referee Mike Procter, and against which he had gone in appeal.
Barring a lone infringement by Virender Sehwag of Code 1.5 for excessive appealing, it had been another temperamental Indian player, S Sreesanth, who alone had been found guilty of breaching the CoC before Harbhajan in the last two years.
Sehwag was found guilty for appealing excessively during the June 2-5, 2006, first Test against the West Indies at St. Johns, Antigua and was fined 20 per cent of his match fees by ICC match referee Jeff Crowe.
Then Sreesanth faced the wrath of match referee Roshan Mahanama of Sri Lanka and found guilty of Level 1 breach of Code 1.1 (logo policy) and Level 1 breach of Code C 1 (conduct contrary to the spirit of the game) during the first Test between India and South Africa at Johannesburg in December, 2006.
The Kerala-born speedster, who missed the Test series in Australia due to a shoulder injury, was fined a total of 30 per cent of his match fees for the two offences.
It was Sreesanth again who got into the bad books of the ICC match referee twice last year and was fined 50 and 25 per cent respectively by the concerned authorities.
He was found guilty of Level 2 breach of Code 2.4 (inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between players in the course of play) by Madugalle on the first occasion during the England-India second Test in July-end at Trent Bridge.
Later, the same player got docked 25 per cent of his match fee by Chris Broad of England for excessive appealing in the T20 World Cup semi final against Australia at Durban on September 22, 2007.